Breakthrough in Huntington’s Disease: Discovery of Altered Neural Circuits

by Santiago Fernandez
5 comments
Huntington's disease research

A recent scientific study has made a significant breakthrough in understanding Huntington’s disease by uncovering new alterations in neural circuits. Specifically, researchers have focused on the axonal projections from the M2 cortex to the superior colliculus (SC) in mouse models. These findings, combined with observed reductions in functional connectivity within the brain, offer crucial insights into the symptoms of Huntington’s disease and potential avenues for therapeutic development.

Huntington’s disease, an inherited condition affecting neurons in the brain, leads to motor, cognitive, and psychiatric impairments in affected individuals. Gaining a comprehensive understanding of the changes occurring in the neural pathways of the brain is vital for devising effective therapeutic strategies. Malfunctioning neuronal pathways, particularly the corticostriatal circuitry, have been associated with this disease in patients.

The study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, goes beyond the previous research on the corticostriatal circuitry and explores alterations in other neural circuits using mouse models. The impact of these discoveries on the lives of patients with Huntington’s disease cannot be overstated.

Led by Mercè Masana, a lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of the University of Barcelona and a member of various prestigious research institutes, the study involved experts such as Jordi Alberch, Manuel José Rodríguez, and Guadalupe Soria. The research received support from the UB Scientific and Technological Centers (CCiTUB) and the IDIBAPS Magnetic Resonance Imaging Unit.

To investigate the aberrant activity in the M2 cortex and its relationship to alterations in the integration of visual stimuli, fluorescent sensors were administered in this cortex. The researchers discovered that the M2 cortex exhibited diverse axonal projections to the superior colliculus (SC), which were significantly impaired and likely connected to the disease’s symptomatology.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging revealed reduced functional connectivity between the left M2 cortex and various analyzed brain regions in mouse models of Huntington’s disease. Utilizing innovative methodologies such as ontogeny, electrophysiology, photometry, and chemogenetics, the team found that the lack of activity in the M2 cortex could be responsible for the altered responses observed in Huntington’s disease.

By identifying the specific alterations and functions of the M2 cortex circuitry, extending beyond the corticostriatal pathway, the study provides crucial data for understanding the symptoms of Huntington’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, gaining a deeper understanding of the superior colliculus and its neural circuits, which are implicated in various neurological disorders, offers potential insights into delaying the onset and reducing the severity of motor disorders’ symptoms.

Reference: “M2 Cortex Circuitry and Sensory-Induced Behavioral Alterations in Huntington’s Disease: Role of Superior Colliculus” by Sara Conde-Berriozabal, Lia García-Gilabert, Esther García-García, Laia Sitjà-Roqueta, Xavier López-Gil, Emma Muñoz-Moreno, Mehdi Boutagouga Boudjadja, Guadalupe Soria, Manuel J Rodríguez, Jordi Alberch, and Mercè Masana, Journal of Neuroscience, 3 May 2023, DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1172-22.2023

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Huntington’s disease research

What is Huntington’s disease?

Huntington’s disease is a rare, genetic neurodegenerative disorder that affects neurons in the brain. It leads to motor, cognitive, and psychiatric impairments in individuals.

What did the recent study discover about Huntington’s disease?

The recent study discovered new alterations in neural circuits, particularly the M2 cortex’s axonal projections to the superior colliculus, in mouse models of Huntington’s disease. It also revealed reduced functional connectivity in the brain. These findings provide valuable insights into the disease’s symptoms and potential therapeutic approaches.

What is the significance of understanding neural circuit alterations in Huntington’s disease?

Understanding the changes in neural pathways, specifically in the M2 cortex circuitry beyond the corticostriatal pathway, is crucial for comprehending the symptoms of Huntington’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. It may also contribute to the development of strategies to delay the onset and reduce the severity of motor disorders.

How is Huntington’s disease inherited?

Huntington’s disease is inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern. It is caused by a mutation in the HTT gene, which leads to the production of an abnormal huntingtin protein. Offspring of an affected individual have a 50% chance of inheriting the mutated gene.

What are the potential implications of the study’s findings?

The study’s findings have potential implications for therapeutic approaches in Huntington’s disease. By identifying the impaired axonal projections and reduced functional connectivity, researchers can focus on developing targeted interventions to address these specific alterations in neural circuits.

What other neurodegenerative disorders could benefit from this research?

The research on altered neural circuits in Huntington’s disease may also provide insights into other neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease. Understanding common circuitry abnormalities across these diseases could lead to broader advancements in treating various neurological conditions.

More about Huntington’s disease research

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5 comments

Amy Smith June 21, 2023 - 8:37 pm

omg Huntington’s disease is so sad its a rare neurodegenerative disorder that causes all these problems in people’s brains it must be so hard for them and their families i hope this research helps find better ways to help them

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Sarah J. June 21, 2023 - 10:06 pm

i have a friend with Huntington’s disease and it’s heartbreaking to see the impact it has on their life. I really hope this research leads to effective therapies that can improve their quality of life. We need more studies like this to find answers for those suffering from neurodegenerative disorders.

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John Doe June 21, 2023 - 11:21 pm

wow this research is so cool i didnt know they could find new things in the brain circuits of huntgtns disease its really interesting and important for the treatment and understanding of the disease

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Emma Thompson June 22, 2023 - 1:28 pm

It’s amazing how science keeps advancing and finding new things about these complex diseases. Understanding the neural circuits involved in Huntington’s disease can lead to breakthroughs in treatment and give hope to those affected by it. Kudos to the researchers for their dedication!

Reply
David123 June 22, 2023 - 3:16 pm

this article has a lot of big words and sciency stuff but i think its saying that they found new things in the brain of people with Huntington’s disease that can help doctors find better treatments so thats good news

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